Saturday, April 28, 2007


To me, the best classic movies are the ones that involve the theatre, dancers, showgirls, burlesque, vaudeville etc. because you will most likely be invited backstage! The preparation and creation of the performer is an art unto itself, especially the showgirl. She is, no doubt, waiting for her big break and hoofing it in hopes of a more glamorous life of being a star and meeting the man of her dreams.

I love seeing the dressing rooms of these gals. There are always long makeup tables with the strip lights on the mirrors, cramped dressing quarters and possibly a folding screen of some sort for privacy. The tables sometimes have satin or linen cloths, others do not. There are powder puffs, jewelry, perfume bottles, hair brushes, false lashes, and lipsticks, maybe a flask. Adorning the mirrors are pictures of children, friends and suitors. You can pretty much count on flowers from Backstage Johnnies and two types of backstage mother~ the stern "no men allowed" marm or the mother hen all the gals flock to with their problems, stories and gossip! Regardless, there is always a comradery among them. Throw in a frenzied stage manager with a clipboard in one hand and a cigarette in the other and you have the makings of some good backstage antics!

Because it is a dressing room, there have to be costumes! Regardless of your profession (starlet, teaser or chorus line) everyone seems to be lounging in some sort of lovely and oft covered marabou feathered robe and matching slippers or pretty underthing. Of course your costume must be adorned with sequins or rhinstones and quite possibly come with a headress of sorts. Stockings, both seamed and fishnet, pasties, scarves and props. Love it!

The gals portrayed are stereotyped: the ingenue or the one destined to be a star, the well known and wisecracking seasoned veteran~ who sometimes befriends or vies for revenge of the new gals nipping at her high heels. There is also the vixen, the comedienne and sometimes the dumb one. If you are lucky, the film you are watching has the girl who is a bit naive and usually talks with a slang riddled New York accent... think Mia Farrow's character Sally, in Radio Days. "Hawk! I he-yuh the lions ro-aw!"

Some movies that have great backstage or dressing room moments are Cover Girl with Rita Hayworth, 42nd St. with Ruby Keeler and Ginger Rogers, Dancing Lady with Joan Crawford. Who could forget the great Lady of Burlesque with Barbara Stanwyck? A few modern films with classic themes are Chicago with Catherine Zeta Jones, Mobsters with Christian Slater and his flapper-dancer girlfriend played by Lara Flynn Boyle, and Bullets Over Broadway with John Cusack and Jennifer Tilly playing the dimwitted chorine turned doomed star. These scenes seem more interesting to me than the plot, at times. Maybe because I love makeup and glamour and wish that it was my bedroom, or maybe because I was one of them in a past life, who knows. If only I hadn't given up dance in grade school to play in the band!

No comments: